Prepared Testimony by Dr. Matthew Levitt Before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Minimizing Potential Threats from Iran: Assessing Economic Sanctions and Other U.S. Policy Options

July 30, 2009

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

As a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who participated in the department’s outreach to the private sector as early as 2006, I am often asked why I support the use of targeted financial measures – both formal sanctions and informal outreach to the private sector – if the use of these tools has not stopped Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon. If these efforts have neither altered the decision making of Iranian leaders nor disrupted Iran’s ability to continue developing its nuclear program, then are they really effective? 

The answer is that targeted financial sanctions were never intended to solve the problem of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Sanctions are no silver bullet. On their own, these financial tools can only do so much. But coupled with other tools -- especially robust diplomacy but also a credible military presence in the region -- financial measures can effectively create leverage for diplomacy. That diplomacy should focus not only on Iran, but on Russia, China, our European and Asian allies, the Gulf States, and others.